If you have been to one coffee shop, with the exception of service and palette, you've been to them all. Coffee shop layouts vary little. Most are either ultra modern or shabby chic. There is little in between, and with good reason. Creating an aesthetically pleasing atmosphere that is both inviting, efficient and comfortable is no easy task. The end result, however, can be a coffee shop that will entice customers for years to come.
Notice first that when you enter a coffee shop you will find a twofold offering of seating. A coffee table with a love seat and large armchair may greet you upon entrance into most coffeehouses. You will also notice a spattering of tables and more "comfy" seating arrangements that look sporadic at best. Look closer, though, and you will find a lot of planning goes into a coffee shop layout.
The barista and cash register will almost always be toward the back of the coffee shop. This allows customers to walk through the entire shop, get a feel for the aesthetics of the place, then choose what is within their personal comfort zone for seating. Regardless if the look is clean lines and monotone colours or overstuffed chairs with a mix of antiques and modern Italian art, the layout rarely varies from one coffee shop to the next. By positioning the cash register and espresso machines at the back, in plain view, owners and their help can maintain a service oriented vantage point for their patrons, both seated and upon entrance. While most coffee shops do little in the way of table side service, there is at least the opportunity from this angle to gauge customer satisfaction and refill those rare, no-nonsense "black, no sugar" cups of Java.
A poor layout can shut down a business quickly. Equipment needs to be properly stationed behind the counter to give optimum service to customers. Two things will almost always be within easy reach of the barista: the espresso machine and the cash register. Two other pieces of equipment will usually be behind him: the sink and any type of griddle or stove for Panini sandwiches or the like. No customer wants to be splashed with dirty dishwater or spattered with olive oil from a pan. By keeping the coffee front and centre--and allowing customers to quickly pay and be on their way--while keeping less appealing appliances and sinks at a safe distance, service is enhanced and more efficient.
One would think that the number of bathrooms depends upon the square footage. However, walk into any local coffee shop and you will rarely find more than two bathrooms. It's not uncommon for coffee shop layouts to include just one unisex bathroom for customers to share. Unless the coffee shop is part of a chain, bathroom space is kept to a minimum to maximise seating areas. So the next time you visit your favourite coffeehouse, sit for a few extra minutes to enjoy your surroundings. The haphazard seating, the seeming lack of planning should be applauded. It takes a certain science to create comfort these days whether the coffee shop is located in an old house in the historic district or squeezed between the dry cleaners and barbershop. Comfort, efficiency and productivity only happen with creative layout and planning.
As important as interior layout is to your coffee shop, geographical layout is just as important. For instance, putting a coffee shop in a rural, blue-collar area that is out of the way will not draw customers. With today's gas prices, no one will be able to justify the drive, much less the expense of a £2.8 latte. However, putting a coffee shop in that same blue-collar town between a hairstylist's shop and a boutique may enhance your chances of building a thriving business. The real estate saying "location, location, location" holds true for coffee shops as well.